The City Council has levied a 45-day moratorium on new massage parlors after learning that Newport Beach has more such establishments than any other Orange County city: 54.
On Feb. 11, the Planning Department will report to the council with recommendations to regulate the growth of massage parlors, such as requiring land-use permits.
Allowing any more parlors could “adversely impact property values in the vicinity, reduce the desirability of the neighborhood . . . and ultimately lead to blighted or Skid Row conditions,” according to a report.
Unlike other cities, Newport does not now require operators of massage parlors to have land-use permits, which involve public hearings before the Planning Commission.
The number of parlors has grown by about 20% in two years, City Manager Robert L. Wynn said.
Regulation is necessary, Wynn said, because the parlors require more surveillance than other businesses. But Lonna Smith, owner of Shangrila Spa in Newport Beach, said the council has “judged” her and other local spa owners “guilty as prostitutes” with this measure.
She said Newport Beach is attractive for spa operators because the city is a resort with “a traveling public” and an abundance of hotels.